I met Kevin Dublin when he was 22 and I was a little bit older, I think at some university poetry event he’d invited me to in Wilmington, N.C. Me, practically still a rookie reporter but already on the verge of a burnout, a caustic combination of neurotic and hard-partying, running a newspaper-hosted poetry blog to try to stay motivated. Him, already raising a family, about to get married.
What struck me was how mature and driven, and simultaneously soft-spoken, Kevin sounded. Being so young but with so many responsibilities in his personal life at the time perhaps also gave him the drive to get serious fast about his poetry, and writing career in general. Soon, he’d give me a chapbook with his poems to reproduce on my then poetry blog. (His poems would, in fact, often populate my blog, because I liked them so much.) Quite digital-savvy (more than the average “digital native”), he knew how to shoot and produce poetry videos. He was constantly performing at open mics and poetry slams around town. He’d come to teach writing, host panels at universities and pursue his Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA), which he is about to complete now.
I’m very glad to see, even if just from far away at the moment, that Kevin has continued to be driven and dedicated, and gotten his writing career to evolve so nicely. And thanks to the Internet, I can still get him to share his poetry with me, now for this blog.
The series of poems presented here today deals creatively with a dizzyingly uplifting and eventually harrowing journey many of us know all too well: the serendipitous birth, exciting sex in a messy bachelor pad (a.k.a. “growth”), and eventual demise of a romantic relationship in our young adult years. When there are often high hopes and expectations but also a high rate of transience, both in terms of having to move around to progress careerwise or even to get a job at all and of wanting to hop around after passion is eroded, for a person, place or experience. Oh, and so many pointless arguments blown out of proportion, blown up by our stalkerish, voyeuristic, exposure- and digital-obsessed culture. This is especially true, it seems, in this generation of the millennials, now coming of age. As The Noisettes, a beloved British band of mine, would sing, “Damn these wild young hearts!”
Now here’s what Kevin has to say.
Love (and “anti-love?”) poems by Kevin Dublin
How to Fall in Love in San Diego (Four)
Time will splash your nose like first raindrop.
You’ll be uncertain, look to the sky for answers.
You won’t have an umbrella, so run.
Or rather, pace quickly since you don’t run.
The pour is coming. You’ll be too late.
It’ll take too many steps to make it
to your car that far on the other side
of the parking lot. It’s okay to frown
under the awning, but don’t complain.
This city has been in drought for six days,
three weeks, and two months. You’re
uncomfortable, but the summer’s nearly done
and this might help things brighten.
Say those silly lines you’ve said since
you read them in a poem:
You don’t find love. Love finds you
as unprepared as August showers
when you haven’t watched the news.
Silence. A pert-lipped stranger
who will soon not be a stranger
will repeat the final lines back to you:
Who needs an umbrella? You are only human
whose nature soaks more than a sea sponge.
You choose what to hold, what to let go.
who must define relationships
like the letter u turned over and over
‘til it’s also a c and an n
and endless accusations
under moonglow against forehead—
star’s skitter from sky
‘til shadow leaks from my body,
slithers below a damp rock, and sleeps
like Ursa Major on the first of winter
waiting for the arrow wounds of spring.
My kitchen is messier
than when the Giza pyramids were built.
The apartment blown through
like a modern archaeological dig site:
duster, pointer trowels,
all exposed with sheets cradling draft
from door opening.
I didn’t wanna bring you home,
but you embarrass easier
and I favor the space between
a Doberman’s ears
on alert like first brownie finally picked
from the sheet pan.
I try to clean: tidy the bed, move
bowls to sink,
but your black jeans become a mosh
pit of nerds hugging
the walls of your bent ankles.
The inverted version of your body
your body after: belly to bedsheets,
head lifted, bottom
so round and implausible—
like the slip
of our mouths, a space
where Love me
begs to pull at the edge of upper lip.
who don’t understand
their feelings aren’t universal
like the breast with a heart under it.
That’s all you have in common with every human being.
If I say, I understand how you feel, BUT—
the important part comes after. Do not stare
at my shoulders as if there were a crow pecking
off its own wings and then resume what you were saying.
I won’t let you take me apart entirely.
Just unsocket me.
How Can You Remain in Love in San Diego?
When we met, we were incredibly far from the desert.
I thought you were too good for me. I didn’t think
you’d speak. You said there’s a delay in my handsomeness.
The ness unsteadily climbed from your tongue to lips.
I watched it fog, pillow in the air—brace a snowflake’s fall.
Today, the screen froze when End Call was pressed.
No feedback, just the illick between fingertip and glass.
We always said goodbye too soon: before a question,
before a right quick, before I love you. Today,
like chill of shadow stroking cheek, was only goodbye.
I sat—right in the sand. Where the hours pulled
themselves onto my lap and asked to be cradled.
Silent as the oval of my mouth when you first said
you wanted to be pregnant at a car dealership
during an argument about curly fries & condiments.
What will become of our children? They will suffer
the rough edge of tenderness from another father,
another mother. Your goodbye is an earthquake.
The rest of life aftershocks at the realization: we were
tectonic & unaware with no promise of tremors’ stop.
I am afraid you will remember me as a wooden ladder
or even worse, forget I was. And I’ll remember you
as a disaster. Unable to recall how you swallowed yawns
like milk, the attractiveness of how slow you’d waddle—
so slow I’d miss your step—dust collected on magenta toes.